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Choosing a Home Base on Winnipesaukee

How to best enjoy Winnipesaukee is a perplexing subject that could occupy an entire guidebook. But it all really boils down to what you want to experience.

If you're traveling with kids, either Weirs Beach or Laconia could be a decent base, though they're also quite heavily touristed -- and heavy on kitschy, Coney Island-type attractions and "shoppes." Personally, I'd skip them both entirely, but with little ones you might "need" to spend a day there, and your kids will appreciate you more for it. If you're more the nature-loving sort, get as far from Weirs Beach as you can. Consider renting a cabin on the lake's southern or eastern shore for a week; locate a canoe or sailboat and explore the lake in small bites, just as travelers did a century ago.

For many travelers, Meredith isn't a bad home base to explore the region for a few days, especially since the White Mountains are also within striking distance (Franconia Notch is about 50 miles to the north). Also, you're near the highway artery (I-93) that funnels you back to Boston or New York most efficiently. Meredith is stocked with the best choice of upscale-leaning inns, hotels, and motels; I'd hardly call it a quiet, peaceful place, though.

If you want a true experience of New Hampshire-as-it-used-to-be, seek out a smaller lake town like Wolfeboro. Find a cottage, B&B, or family-owned motel by whatever means necessary -- that includes checking the notes posted on bulletin boards at village general stores. If your time is truly limited, take a driving tour around the lake and into the surrounding foothills for a day. With a few well-chosen stops, you can get a nice quick taste of the region's flavor by stopping in little hamlets with such names as Center Harbor, Center Sandwich, Melvin Village, and Moultonborough; sampling the local diners; and hanging your feet or fishing pole off a dock for a few hours.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.